Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Doctor Visit

Today was my first visit as a patient at an Air Force Medical Treatment Facility (MTF).  Let me just start by saying, the clinic on base is way different from the one I'm used to back home.  Gone are the cheery waiting rooms with fish tanks and birds for ambiance.  Gone are the nurses in bright scrubs and doctors in starched white jackets.  Gone are all the little touches that help ease any nervousness you may have felt about your doctor visit. 

Instead I check in for my appointment with my military ID.  I write my husband's social security number on every form I'm given.  I'm led down narrow corridors that just don't seem to be lit as brightly as I'm used to.  I'm examined by someone wearing ABUs.

That last one is what made the experience seem so surreal to me.  I'm used to white coats and stethoscopes.  Not ABUs.  My husband wears that uniform.  It's just...weird. 

The doctor was great though.  Super in fact.  Her bedside manner was definitely not lacking. I just wasn't sure exactly what to call her.  Doctor?  Captain?   Whoever said "ignorance is bliss" was dead wrong.  I find it annoying.

Of course my first experience at a MTF wasn't going to unfold without some incident.  Oh no.  That's just not my style.  I have to make it a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons.

I had to startle half the nurse staff by almost passing out in the hallway.

They found me sitting on the floor with my head between my knees trying not to lose consciousness and vomit all over my flip flops.  And this was after almost passing out during my exam.  At least I recognized the symptoms and sat my happy butt down.  It would have been awfully embarrassing to be found sprawled out on the hallway floor.

I think I was the sensation of the morning.  I'm sure most people don't pass out after a routine procedure such as I had. Sure it had been a little painful but not unduly so.  I don't think they knew quite what to make of me.

All in all, it was a morning for the memory vault.  At least I got my first appointment at the clinic out of the way.  Now I know how the appointment line works, how the check in procedure goes, what the doctors look like.

Everything in the military world is so different from the civilian world that it definitely takes getting used to.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Weekend

Okay, so maybe it wasn't as terrible as all that.  But the weekend was definitely not my favorite.  I'm not sure when I've actually had a weekend suck so badly that I wanted it to be over.  I know, right?  Traitor thoughts.  But it's true.

Early last week, Evie caught a cold.  I shouldn't really complain because I have a ridiculously healthy child.  In her 2 1/2 years, she's only had an ear infection once (though it was a double ear infection, erg) and the occasional cold that lasts for a couple of days.  Other than that, she's healthy as a horse.  No flu or croup or RSV or any other childhood illness.

I should be counting my blessings that all she had was a cold and it's been months since the last one.  But see, I have this wonderful habit of catching any bug that comes within 500 miles of me.  That's probably not even an exaggeration.  I catch everything.  It didn't take more than a day or two for me to catch this one.

Normally I'd just lay around the house (because even a little cold often knocks me on my butt), drink plenty of liquids and hand over all my usual duties to Michael until I felt better.  Evie was only out of commission for a day or two before she felt fine enough to resume running around the house so it's not like we were both bedridden. 

But if you recall, Michael had his wisdom teeth extracted on Wednesday.

Do you see where this is going?  Not only did I have a crabbier than usual kid whose nose needed to be wiped every three seconds and a husband who was doped up on pain pills and couldn't eat anything that required more chewing that pudding, I felt like death warmed over.  Lovely.

That would be karma though, wouldn't it?

Needless to say, when I woke up this morning feeling about 95% better, I had a lot of cleaning to do.  It's a little mortifying to see just how messy a house can get when no ones cleans or picks up after themselves for four days.

At least one of us is feeling better.  Michael is still in some pain, and Evie's not completely over her cold either.  Keep your fingers crossed that we're all 100% ourselves by this next weekend when my parents come to visit!

Friday, August 27, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

I really enjoy learning about other military spouse so I'm so glad I found MilSpouse Friday Fill-In.  It' a great way for us military spouse bloggers to connect--and for me to talk about myself.  :)

1. What secret indulgence do you act on while your spouse is away? (from Devil Dog Darling) 
While Michael was gone for BMT and Tech School, the one thing I indulged in was my hair.  I spent more than I ever have to get it cut and colored, but it felt good to be pampered.  I'm sure every time he leaves it will be something different.

2.If you were a spice, what would you be? (from New Girl On Post) 
My first instinct was to say something like ginger or sugar...something girly and sweet.  But I'm pretty sure if I was a spice, I would be nothing of the sort.  In all honesty, I'd probably be chili powder.  It's hot and spicy and sure to deliver a kick or two.

3. Where do you go for support when your significant other is deployed? (from Texas Meets Washington)
Michael hasn't deployed yet, but I already know I have great fellow military spouses to lean on when it happens.  They are the only ones who will know exactly how I'll be feeling.  But my family and other friends will be a close second.  It's good to surround yourself with people you love and trust when your rock isn't there to lean on.

4. What is the oldest thing you own? (from A Troop’s Girl) 
The oldest thing I own would be jewelery.  My paternal grandmother gave me a few different pieces although I don't know the exact age of them.  I wear her wedding ring as my own, one of my most treasured possessions.

5. How did you vision your future pre-military? (from Daddy’s Duty)
Wow, that's a hard one.  A lot of what I wanted has happened according to how I envisioned it.  I wanted a husband, a child, and a college degree--all things I have. I wanted to use my Sociology degree in some capacity though I never really narrowed it down to a specific career.  But now...I have no clue what my future will be like.  And that is surprisingly refreshing.  I think it's hard to really plan your future, even envision it really, because little things can mean big changes.  Being a military family may make it hard for me to have an actual career in my field, but it opened different doors for me.  Writing is a lot easier to accomplish when I'm not working a 9-5 job, and maybe now I can accomplish my dream of publishing a novel.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hey, It's Okay Thursday

So I got this idea from a fellow blogger who in turn got it from Glamour magazine.  Basically, any Thursday that I'm able, I'm going to write a list of things to be okay about.  Feel free to do the same on your blog--any day of the week!

Hey, It's Okay...

To laugh at your husband's chipmunk cheeks when he gets his wisdom teeth pulled.  Hey, he's doing great and not in much pain.  So it's not really that mean. 

To wish dealing with Tricare was easier.  I wish I could just drive 10 hours back home every time I need to see the doctor because at least I know how everything works.  Appointment lines and referrals and PCMs and taking a number at the pharmacy...it's all so strange to me still.

To crave Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Lattes and chili and apple crisp.  Is it fall yet?

To feel a little sad that school is starting back up and I'm not attending.  It's been a year since I graduated college and some days I miss it.  What do I miss the most you ask?  Writing papers.  Yes, I'm a nerd.  No wedgies, please.

To be waiting anxiously for Michael to be feeling well enough to stay home alone.  Not for his own sake, though I care about that too.  But because I can't believe I forgot that Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and Teenage Dream by Katy Perry both came out on Tuesday, and I didn't rush to the store to buy them. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When Did HOUSEWIFE Become a Dirty Word?

It's no longer 1950.  So most wives don't stay home doing this all day.

In truth, many women now have days that more closely resemble this.

And for that, we have wonderful, brave, headstrong women like these to thank for starting us on the path towards equality and the freedom of choice.

Feminists didn't stop at securing women's right to vote.  Throughout the 20th century, they did a heck of a lot more than that.  They fought for choice.  And choice is a powerful thing.

But along the way, one choice that those women fought for--the choice to stay home or join the workforce-- stopped being a choice.  Now a majority of women work, and many times out of necessity rather than the desire to do so.

Society loves hypocrisy and women in the workforce is one issue that just never ceases to be a double-edged sword.  Women are either damned for going to work--because being away from their children makes them bad mothers--or damned for staying home--because they aren't contributing to the family's bank account.  We've all heard the arguments and watched the battles unfold about who really has it the worst.

What bothers me the most is that somewhere along the way, housewife became a dirty word.

I am proud of who I am and what I do for my family.  I know that without my contributions, my family would be in bad shape.  The house wouldn't be clean.  The dishes would still be in the sink.  The laundry would pile up.  Someone else would be spending more time with my daughter than I do.  Meals would rarely be homemade.  I could go on. And on.  And on.

But I find myself at every corner having to defend what I do and why I do it.  I'll be honest, if one more person asks me when I'm going to get a real job, I'll probably punch the deserving offender in the face.  It's insulting.  It undermines the choices I've made.  And that's the kicker.

My foremothers fought for this choice.  They endured torment and ridicule and heartache so they could give me this choice to decide what's best for myself and my family.  Some women know being at home all day would kill them slowly, and they deserve their chance to shine in the workforce.  But their choices shouldn't make mine any less respected.

We all deserve the choice to do what makes us happy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Since this is a military family sort of blog, and I follow a lot of military spouse blogs (as you can see on the right side of my page), I thought I'd join in on the MilSpouse Friday Fill-In.  It will probably be sporadically, but I thought it would be a great way to connect to other military spouses.

1. If you could be a fugitive from the law for whatever reason, what would your crime be? 
This is a hard question for me to answer.  I'm a pretty straight-laced sort of person so it's hard to think of something that I'd really want to do that's illegal.  Michael said I would probably want to steal some limited edition book from a library or something equally nerdy, but I said no way.  I'm more devious than that.  It'd be from a museum for sure.

2. How long do you think you will be a military family? 
I'm hoping it will be for the next twenty years or so, but at this point, I have no idea.  Michael has only been enlisted for seven months so we have only seen a small side of military life thus far.  But the military has so much to offer--traveling, security, benefits--that I have a feeling this is the life we'll choose to keep living for a long time.

3. What's your favorite recipe? 
My favorite recipe is for chocolate chip cookies.  It's a recipe I got from my mom and the cookies are crumbly rather than soft and gooey.  Exactly the way I like them!

4. What would you want your last five words to be when you leave this life? 
I know this is suppose to be a serious question, but I can't think of one thing I would want to say except "I love you".  And as I'm sure you're all aware of, that's only three words.  I have thought of a few five word sentences that aren't really appropriate.  Like, "don't steal my money, biatch" or "I'm a ganster, for real".  Since I'm planning on being a crazy old lady when I die, I think it would be hilarious.  
5. Where do you hope to retire?
I'd love to retire somewhere warm and tropical...just like everyone else, probably.  I'm from Wisconsin so I'm so over snow it's not even funny.  I would love to retire near the ocean and for it be sunny everyday.  Florida or California, perhaps?  But I have thirty or so years left before this issue will come up, and a lot can change in that amount of time. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hey, It's Okay Thursday

So I got this idea from a fellow blogger who in turn got it from Glamour magazine.  Basically, any Thursday that I'm able, I'm going to write a list of things to be okay about.  Feel free to do the same on your blog--any day of the week!

Hey, It's Okay...

To be nervous about going to the gym for the first time in like...ever, today.  Because as much as I'd love to be fit and athletic, I'm not in shape.  At all.  This should be interesting.

To give my two year old a pacifier when she's acting up in a store.  Usually it's reserved for naptime/bedtime only, but since we've moved to Kansas, she can be hard to handle in public.  Some may think it's bad parenting, but if it's the only way I can keep my sanity, I'll take it.

To have almost given away the puppy like five times in the last week.  We even called the breeder the other day to see if they'd take her back.  But alas, she is too darn cute, and my husband's pout is effective.

To not have blogged much this week because of said puppy.  Between cleaning up after her accidents,  playing with her and leaving the house so I can escape her, my brain has been full of static. 

To have eaten out for more meals this week than I've eaten at home.  That is so unlike our family that we can let is slide.  As long as it stops.  Because the gym can only do so much, you know.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What I've Learned So Far

One year ago, Michael decided to join the Air Force.  We were scared and excited and trying very hard not to be naive and uninformed.  We (meaning me) researched everything we could in relation to the military so we wouldn't make this decision blind.

Fast forward a year, and it's amazing just how much our lives have changed.  We've lived through a six month separation, moved 600+ miles away from home...not to mention Michael has this cool new thing called a career.

We've both learned a lot this past year--especially about the military.  Some of it makes me laugh.  Some of it makes me want to cry.  And others just plain confuse me.  I thought I'd share a few things I've learned so far.

1.  The military likes to make things difficult.  Like not calling anything by what civilians would call it.  The Commissary?  Oh, that's the grocery store.  PCSing?  You'd call that moving.  How about third shift or what some affectionately call grave yard shift?  Yeah, that needs a new name too--Mid shift.  And job training that's done at a different base than the one you're stationed at?  That's got my favorite name of all--TDY (temporary duty yonder).

2.  The Commissary is closed on Mondays.  Strange freaking day to close a grocery store, in my oh so humble opinion.  Plus, you're suppose to tip the Baggers because apparently they don't make any money otherwise.  Um, I never carry cash.  Like ever.  So sometimes I accidentally stiff the old people that bag my groceries.  Sorry old people.

3.  The military member aka my husband is called the Sponsor.  Evie and I are the Dependents.  Doesn't that just make me feel like June Cleaver.

4.  Military members are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Although they may (sometimes) work a normal 40 hour work week, they can be made to work as many hours as the military deems necessary.  Like 12 hour shifts for an entire week. I didn't want to see my husband anyway.

Okay, I just read through those four things, and I think I sounded a bit sarcastic.  Did I?  Whoops.  Honestly, I like a lot of things about the military life.  I've just learned a lot of things that make me roll my eyes.  Or pull out my hair.

Really, I just saved the best for last.  No sarcasm included even.

5.  Military spouses are amazing.  Spouses are the (not so) silent ranks of the military.  They serve too, just in a different capacity.  I've learned through blogland and living on base just how remarkable these women (and men) are.  They are friendly and supportive and sources of much needed know-how.  They learn military lexicon, stay strong through deployments, move to strange exciting new places, become on-and-off-again single parents, deal with their lives not truly being their own...all because they fell in love.

I wonder what this next year will bring.  I'm sort of hoping it will be less acronyms.

Friday, August 13, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

 Since this is a military family sort of blog, and I follow a lot of military spouse blogs (as you can see on the right side of my page), I thought I'd join in on the MilSpouse Friday Fill-In.  It will probably be sporadically, but I thought it would be a great way to connect to other military spouses.

1. What is ONE thing you’d like civilians to understand about being a military family? 
I'm still new so there's a lot I'd like to understand about being a military family.  But one thing I'd like them to know is that it is more than just hard to have your spouse gone for months at a time.  It is depressing, lonely, chaotic and frustrating.  I may not have had to live through a deployment yet, but being apart six months while he was in training was pretty brutal.  And it will be worse next time because I'm not surrounded by family and lifelong friends.  I think sometimes people outside the military don't understand how very trying time apart can be, not only for the service member, but for the people left behind. 

2. What is your favorite mistake?
Honestly?  I can't think of anything for this.  Okay, so obviously I've made mistakes in my life.  But I'm such a planner and basically the opposite of a risk taker that none of those mistakes were big ones.  And if they were, they probably weren't ones I'm proud of.  
3. What indulgence could you give up for a year? 
One indulgence I wish I could give up for a year is ice cream.  I say wish because I know this could never happen.  I love ice cream like many people love air.  It's pretty much a necessity.  But my figure would probably appreciate a respite.
4. If you could be a winged animal, what would you be? 
If I could be a winged animal, I would be a dragon.  Okay, so maybe they aren't real.  But I'm pretty much a closet fantasy nerd so dragons are super cool to me.  And who wouldn't want to breathe fire every once in a while?  Michael would have no excuse not to know when I'm mad.
5. What is one question you’d like to see asked in a future MFF?
I just started doing Friday Fill-In so I'm not sure what questions have been asked before.  One question I would like to see asked is what was your favorite base and why.  I think this is a common question, but when thought is actually put into it, I think it's a great one.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hey, It's Okay Thursday

So I got this idea from a fellow blogger who in turn got it from Glamour magazine.  Basically, any Thursday that I'm able, I'm going to write a list of things to be okay about.  Feel free to do the same on your blog--any day of the week!

Hey, It's Okay...

To wish that the library on base was better.  The fiction section is so small I almost cried. 

To think it's hilarious that my dog discovered her reflection in the patio door and now gives herself kisses.

To be a stay-at-home mom with a four year degree.  I'm proud of my accomplishments, and know I'm making the best choices for my family right now.  Except I think I'm stealing the term Domestic Engineer from this fellow blogger.  It sounds snazzier. 

To wish I could survive off of chips and salsa and ice cream.  If it didn't go straight to my thighs, butt, hips everywhere, I wouldn't eat anything else.

To think that I deserve a well-earned vacation away from everything.   Mostly because I would really like some uninterrupted sleep.

To not have written anything for my book in months.  Again.  Wait, that's not really okay.  I better get on that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our New House

I realized that although I posted a picture of the outside of our house when we first did a walk through, I never revealed the finished product.  Well, almost finished product.  I lost my unpacking vibe when it came time to organize the spare room.  It kinda sorta looks like a tornado hit it.  Which is fitting since we live in tornado alley.

To refresh your memories, here's a look at the outside of our duplex.

One of my favorite rooms in the house is the living room slash dining room area.  It's sort of a L-shaped room which I wasn't in love with at first, but it's definitely grown on me.  The new furniture probably has something to do with that.  (Please excuse the boxes--we hadn't picked up everything when I took the photos.)

My second favorite room in the house is Evie's room.  Mostly because we invested in some cube storage so her room doesn't look like the aforementioned spare room.  The kid's got a lot of toys and little room to put them.

One of my favorite things about the bedrooms is the closets.  Lame, I know.  But in our old house, we had to build closets because it was so old.  So we had tiny practically non-existent closets.  Regular sized closets make me feel spoiled now.

Our bedroom is pretty boring. 

The kitchen and bathroom are small so its awkward to take pictures of them. 

My favorite thing about the house is the hardwood floors.  Especially now that we have a husky since she'll shed so much.  I don't love having to dust mop the floors every single day, but it makes me keep up on the housework.

Believe me, that's a plus.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


If you're current with reading my blog you know that last week I talked about family size.  Evie's two and a half now so the question on many people's minds is "when are you having your next one?"  Long story short, we thought back in May we were ready and fast forward to today, not so much.  We decided to push the decision back six months or longer because obviously the time is not right.

So you'd think that would mean we're keeping our family size down to three for the time being.  I wish I could say we're that smart.  No, see...I'm a pushover.

A few years ago, Michael and I bought our first dog together.  We had her for a couple of years, but when Evie was about a year old, we had to give her up because between a toddler, me in school and Michael working it was just too much.  I put my foot down and said no more animals until we're done with babies and our kids are in school.

When we moved to Kansas, we decided to get Evie a "pet" as a gift for all the craziness we were throwing at her with the big move.  We've had gerbils, a turtle and ferrets in past years and we knew none of those were coming into our house again.

We bought her a fish which Evie aptly named Baby Red Fish.  Seeing as it's well, red.  We got her this fish

so that we wouldn't buy her this

Guess how many pets Evie now owns?  Ding ding ding.  If you guessed two, you would be correct.

Sleeping in the corner of the living room underneath the Papasan chair at this exact moment is our seven week old Siberian husky female, Roxy.  She's cute as could be and super cuddly.  I'll try to remember those things when she sheds an entire fur coat all over my currently immaculate floors and tries to dig a hole out of my backyard.

I'm a pushover, what can I say?  But at least she's cute.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Disney Conspiracy

I think that Target teamed up with Disney to empty my bank account.  That's about the only conclusion I can come to after innocently walking down an aisle in the toy department at Target yesterday.  I would like to present some evidence for this theory.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C

I don't know if you've happened across this aisle in Target yet, but if you haven't--watch out.  That's a fair warning.  Because it is wall to wall, top to bottom Disney Princess and Tinkerbell paraphernalia.  It's like toddler girl heaven.

In my house, Disney Princesses and Tinkerbell are honored guests.  Not only do we own (almost all) the movies, but we have dress up clothes and a plethora of toys dedicated to their holiness.  We own these things not only because Evie loves them, but I have to admit...I've never quite outgrown my love for all things princess.

Sure I may be almost a quarter of a century old (though we won't discuss that scary topic), but I just can't shake the happiness I feel when I sit down to watch Cinderella or sing along with the songs from The Little Mermaid.  I have to tell you, if I had given birth to a tomboy or a boy, I'd be lost.

Since walking through that toy aisle was heaven for more than one princess-lover in my family, I couldn't resist buying something.  Christmas is many moons away yet and her birthday isn't until a few weeks after that so there is no way I could have waited.  I ended up buying her this.

We played with it in the car before we headed home.  Don't judge me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Since this is a military family sort of blog, and I follow a lot of military spouse blogs (as you can see on the right side of my page), I thought I'd join in on the MilSpouse Friday Fill-In.  It will probably be sporadically, but I thought it would be a great way to connect to other military spouses.

1. What is something you wished you’d learned to do earlier in life?
I wish I had learned to learn better.  Growing up, I got good grades, but I always just retained the knowledge necessary to pass the next exam and then promptly forgot most of it.  I'm sure this is true for many of us.  This way of learning didn't really stop until my junior year of college, my first semester back after having Evie.  Maybe it was that I was a mother now or just that I was a little older, but I started caring more about what I learned.  If I had learned to learn better a long time ago, maybe I wouldn't feel so ignorant as an adult when it comes to history or past wars or photosynthesis. 

2. What is your biggest pet peeve with the military?
We're still new to this lifestyle, but I think that is my biggest pet peeve.  Not knowing things.  (Noticing a trend?  Apparently I want to be a know-it-all.)  Since Michael is the service member, he goes to all the briefings and such that introduce us to military life.  And he's expected to pass along all the information to me.  Yeah, right.  I hate being in the dark on things that affect me personally, but I'm slowly getting my footing on all things military.

3. What tourist attraction near you have you never seen?
We've only been in Kansas a month so there are a lot of things we haven't seen.  One attraction in particular that I want to see soon is the Aviation Museum.   Wichita is the Air Capitol of the World and obviously Michael's in the Air Force, so I think it would be interesting.  Plus, Evie has amazing airplane-dar (she can spot or hear an airplane a million miles away, even before we do) so I know she'd love it.

4. What are you avoiding doing right now?
Getting Evie out of bed.  She woke up for a few hours in the middle of the night (again!), and she finally woke up a few minutes ago.  But I'm going to finish this post first, gosh darn it! :)

5. Wine, beer or liquor?
Liquor for sure, though I'm starting to find a taste for wine.  I cannot stand beer--even the smell makes me sick.  But give me a mixed drink--margaritas anyone?--and I'm a happy girl.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hey, It's Okay Thursday

So I got this idea from a fellow blogger who in turn got it from Glamour magazine.  Basically, any Thursday that I'm able, I'm going to write a list of things to be okay about.  Feel free to do the same on your blog--any day of the week!

Hey, It's Okay...

To already be in love with Wichita and the base here, even though I miss home.  I think it's okay to fall in love with more than one place.

To have decided that having one child is okay for right now, and know that we'll revisit the issue in a few months.

To kinda sorta wish it were Fall because it's been too blazing hot since we got to Kansas.  I expected 100+ degrees in Arizona or Florida...but Kansas?

To look at Air Force bases overseas and dream...even though I know it may never happen.  Sigh.

To love the look the Air Force has given my husband.  I'll wholeheartedly admit I find the regulation haircut sexy.

To wish the first song my two year old learned to sing from the radio wasn't "Love the Way you Lie" by Eminem and Rihanna.  Epic fail on that one.

To like my new house but dislike that it's a duplex.  Listening to your neighbors' blare their radio at nine in the morning after you were up all night with a two year old is not my definition of fun.  It's anti-fun, actually.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Bucket List

After watching the movie The Bucket List a few years ago, I've always wanted to start a bucket list of my own. If you haven't seen the movie or heard this particular phrase before, a bucket list is a list of things you'd like to do or accomplish before you keel over, die, or as the name implies…kick the bucket. As I mentioned before, I'm trying to stop and smell the roses more. I want to enjoy life, take it day by day (as much as I can), and appreciate the little things.

Part of that smelling the roses bit I'm working on is realizing what in life is most important to me. I've already "achieved" some of life's biggest moments: graduating college, becoming a mother, marrying the love of my life, owning a home (and selling it). But there is so much more to life than just those moments. I want to look back at my life when I'm old and gray (and I'm talking old and gray, not like….30, ha), and be proud of the things I've done. I want to have memories that will last a lifetime.

So I've started compiling my bucket list. It's not very long—only eight things so far—but it's a start. Some things on my list won't be that hard to accomplish but others will take a lot of work. Or luck. Possibly both.

8. Ride in a hot air balloon. I absolutely hate heights, but I think this would be amazing. Especially if this ride happened above the Grand Canyon or some other beautiful landscape.

7. Ride a horse. Crazy as this may seem, I've never ridden a horse before. I know, right? Again, the whole height thing is sort of a deterrent, but riding along the beach on horseback would be pretty spectacular.

6. Swim in the ocean. I've lived in the Midwest my entire life so I've never been anywhere near an ocean. It's something I think everyone should experience at least once.

5. Swim with a dolphin. This one ties in with number six, but I think it's big enough to warrant its own spot on my list. Dolphins are amazing creatures, and swimming with one would be an unforgettable experience.

4. Visit the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of our country's freedom. As an American, I cannot help but think of the statue and be proud to live in this great nation. I would love to visit the statue to see with my own eyes that first glimpse of America many of our ancestors had.

3. Visit all 50 states. Traveling is like a drug to me. I haven't had the opportunity to do so often, but each time I do, I become more addicted to it. I want to see everything our country has to offer—though that would be impossible. So I'll settle for visiting every single state in our great nation, and taking a small piece of what it has to offer with me.

2. Publish a novel. I've touched on this before so it should go without saying how very important this one is to me. Writing has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. If life would slow down a little, I could finish writing my first novel, which is about 2/3 finished. The process to publish a book can be long and grueling, and may never happen. But is by far one of my biggest goals in life.

1. Visit Europe. This is absolutely, one-hundred percent the one thing in life that if I accomplished, I could die happy. There are so many places in this world that I want to see and experience, but the history and culture of Europe would render me speechless. I want to explore a real-life castle. I want to be awed at Stonehenge and feel sorrow at Auschwitz. I want to see Roman ruins and the Eifel Tower and the stunning blue Aegean Sea. The most amazing thing about it is that it could happen! As in, I could maybe see all of those places. With Michael being in the military, there is a distinct possibility that we could be stationed in England or Germany—Mildenhall RAF in England is my hope. Living there for two or three years (or even longer) would give us more time to experience what that area of the world has to offer than if we just had a week or so to visit. Who knows where the military will choose to send us, but I can cross my fingers and wish on every single star.